Haupia Cake

Lately, I’ve been missing some Hawaii dishes and last week I shared the recipe for Kalua pork. This week I want to share a dessert you’ll find in Hawaii – the Haupia (how-pee-ah) cake. Haupia is a traditional Hawaiian pudding that is often served at lu’aus and parties. It was originally made with arrowroot and coconut cream, but the modern recipe is made with cornstarch, sugar, and coconut milk. These ingredients are heated until the mixture thickens and is poured into a pan to chill. Once chilled, the Haupia is cut into small squares to be eaten.

Haupia cake is a modern adaptation of the original dessert. It is a fluffy white cake that is filled with haupia and topped with frosting and shredded coconut. Although it is labor  intensive, the hard work is worth the outcome.

Cake Preparation


For the Haupia cake, all you need is a box of white cake mix, coconut milk, water, and eggs.


Grease and flour  two 8″ round pans.


Mix the cake mix, coconut milk, and water in a bowl.  In another bowl, whip the egg whites and fold into the cake mixture.


Evenly separate the cake mix into the two cake pans and bake at 350F degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.

Once done, let cakes cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pans to cool further on a cake rack.

 Haupia Filling Preparation


Add coconut milk, sugar, and salt to a small pot. Bring to a boil, while continuously stirring.

Combine water and cornstarch and add to the coconut mixture. Immediately lower heat, while continuously stirring to prevent burning.

Continue to cook on low until the mixture thickens into a pudding consistency. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. While the mixture is cooling, mix it every 10 minutes. Once it’s cool enough, pour the mixture into a pan and continue to cool in the refrigerator until it is completely chilled.


Frosting Preparation


Warm coconut milk in the microwave for 40 seconds and dissolve gelatin in it. Set this mix aside and let it completely cool.


Pour cream into a chilled bowl and mix on high for 2-3 minutes. As the cream begins to thicken, add sugar and vanilla. Continue to mix on high for another minute.  After a minute, slowly pour the cooled coconut mixture into the cream while continuing to mix on high. Continue to mix for another 2-3 minutes until the cream thickens. Place in the refrigerator to thicken even more.

Cake Assembly


When the cakes are cooled and the haupia chilled, spread a 1/2″ layer of filling onto the top of one of the cakes.

Place the second layer of cake on top.


Frost the entire cake with the whipped cream frosting.  I didn’t let my gelatin cool completely and my frosting had a few tiny lumps in it.

Take coconut flakes and sprinkle onto the top and sides of cake. *If you don’t want a lot of coconut flakes, just sprinkle flakes on the top of the cake*

Haupia Cake

Enjoy the cake!



  • 1 (16.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 2 egg whites, whipped until soft peaks form
  • 1 cup frozen coconut milk, thawed
  • ⅔ cup water

 Haupia Filling

  • 3 cups frozen coconut milk, thawed
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1 packet or 1 T. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons powder sugar
  • 1 vanilla or lemon extract (with vanilla you will taste more coconut)
  • shredded coconut (amount varies because you can just do the top or the entire cake)



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans.
  2. Mix together cake mix, 1 cup coconut milk, and ⅔ cup water. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites and gently fold them into the cake mixture. Pour equal amounts of batter into pans.
  3. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Check if the cake is done by inserting a toothpick in center of cake. It is done if it comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then carefully remove cake from pans and place on cooling racks.

Haupia Filling

  1. Combine cornstarch and water. Set aside.
  2. In a pot,  add coconut milk, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and add cornstarch mixture; stirring continuously. Immediately lower heat and continue to cook until the mixture thickens to a thick pudding consistency; stirring continuously to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn.
  3. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and stir. Mix every 10 minutes while the filling is cooling down. Once the filling is cool enough, pour it into a pan and place it into the refrigerator until it is completely chilled.


  1. Microwave coconut milk in a bowl for 40 seconds. Add gelatin and dissolve in coconut milk. Set this mixture on the side and let it completely cool. If you don’t allow this mixture to cool, you will get lumps in your frosting.
  2. In a seperate bowl, start whipping the heavy cream on high in a chilled bowl. When the cream starts to thicken after 2-3 minutes, add the sugar and extract into the cream. Continue whipping for a minute and slowly pour in the gelatin mixture while you continue to mix on high. Whip for another 2-3 minutes until the cream begins to thicken.
  3. Place thickened cream into the refrigerator to set further.

Assembly of the cake

  1. Take one of the round cakes and spread 1/2″ of Haupia pudding onto the top of it.
  2. Place second cake on top of the Haupia pudding and cake.
  3. Spread whipped frosting all over the top and sides of cake
  4. Sprinkle coconut on the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Serve or chill for later.

**If you have leftover Haupia pudding and frosting, you can also layer this on top of chocolate pudding as another dessert. Layers would be pudding, haupia, and frosting**

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  1. I know it’s been years since you published this recipe, but I wanted to share that I made this cake for Mother’s Day 2020 and it was absolutely delicious. My mom is a coconut lover but she doesn’t like her desserts too sweet, so this cake was perfect. The soft cake, the creamy smooth haupia filling (seriously, that haupia pudding is divine), and the airy whipped frosting all come together so well, and the overall cake has an authentic coconut flavor that’s not too sweet. I was about to order a haupia cake from a local Hawaiian restaurant but they charged $35 for a small cake which was too pricey for my liking. I searched for haupia cake recipes online and decided to give this one a try; I’m SO glad I did. I haven’t made cakes before (been spending a lot of time perfecting a macaron recipe), but this was easy to make and fun to put together. I got so many compliments when I posted it to social media, and both my mom and my boyfriend’s mom loved the cake so mother’s day was a success. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    Some notes from making this cake:
    – I used 2 9-inch square pans;the amount of filling and frosting the recipe makes is perfect for this size of cake and I had no leftovers.
    – I used canned coconut milk (only ingredients are coconut milk and water) and had no issues with taste or texture.
    – I had a difficult time letting the gelatin/coconut milk mixture cool completely, as the mixture hardened into a jello when I did so. I had to keep rewarming and letting the mixture cool so that it remained a liquid but was somewhat cool in temperature. Maybe this happened because I used canned coconut milk? My frosting ended up being a little clumpy, but it still turned out smooth in taste and visually the clumps were hardly noticeable when covered in coconut shreds.
    – For those like me who are counting calories/monitoring what they eat, I cut my cake into 16 slices and each slice was approx. 383 calories.

  2. Hi again! Do you trim the brown part off of the cake so it is all white or is that not necessary? Do You have to use frozen coconut milk versus boxed coconut milk? Thanks!

      1. Ok Thank you! I am trying to replicate a cake that a Chicago restaurant makes & I believe the top is the Haupia as well but I just wanted to get your opinion 🙂

  3. While returning to Hawaii earlier this month I met up with my long time pal. She grabbed a haupia cake for dessert – my crew of 6 loved it. While I’ve had haupia numerous times, Ive never had haupia cake. I’ll be trying your recipe soon.

  4. I have never heard of this special cake before. It looks moist and delicious! Fun combination! Thanks for linking up at The Four Seasons Blog Hop! Sandra from Scrumptilicious 3 You!

  5. It sounds delicious, I’ve yet to try a coconut cake! Thanks for linking up to Sweet and Savoury Sundays, share with us again this weekend!

  6. Wow that sounds delicious! Baking isn’t my specialty, and I’ve never attempted anything with filling…I can just see it now, but this almost makes me want to give it a whirl! lol Thanks for stopping by and linking up at the Been There Done That Hop!